2012 — In limerick form

Happy New Year!  One year down and another one to come.  Just like clockwork.  Or the seasons.  Or the calendar.

I have reviewed mine and Matt’s year and I have written a limerick about it.  And presented it in a pictorial (click on the first picture to start the slide show).

There once was a couple from Statesville
Whose 2012 was a year full of thrills
From Dublin to torn rotator cuffs
And dog bites to camping in the rough
The goal for ’13 is no emergency room bills

Happy New Year to you and yours!

The gift of the love note

Matt and I were invited to a Christmas party at my cousin’s house earlier in the month.  We had a great time (a bonus of not having depression).  Before we left, my cousin, Beth, gave me bag that her mother had sent to me.  It was full of items that had been in my grandmother’s house when she passed away, and my Aunt Linda was sending them to me for division between my sister and me.  It was mostly pictures that Grandma had, and the majority of those pictures were of my nieces and nephew, marking their growth and milestones.

But there were also some memorabilia related to my dad.  There was a school report about baseball (with a grade of 97), a model car that he had put together as a boy, and some of her favorite pictures of him.

Like most people who have lost a close loved one, I think a lot about my dad during the holidays.  I remember the fact that he always put his shopping off until the very last minute.  I remember that Christmas Eve that he tried to fix our stuck back door and we ended up with the back door in the back yard–but it wasn’t stuck anymore.  And when we get together with the rest of our family, I miss his presence.

Thus, the memorabilia that was in the bag that was specific to him felt like a Christmas present.  It was wonderful to pull out the toy car and read the report on baseball.

And I was reminded that my dad was, to his bones, an optimistic person.  He was a natural salesman and spent most of his adult life in some sort of sales job.  He was always quite successful at sales because he connected so well with people.  Maybe because of that optimism I mentioned.

In the bag of items were two love notes that he wrote as a boy.  One of them perfectly illustrates that “never give up” attitude.  He had it even as a young man.

Love note

Love note

Dear Cathy I ham (sic) very fond of you.  And I know you love smity.  And I know you have some more boy friend.  But I still love you.  love Tommy.

I love this love letter.  He recognizes that Cathy loves someone else (Smity), but it doesn’t matter–Tommy still loves her.  It’s that optimistic, glass-half-full outlook that he exhibited until he died.

This little note may have been the best gift I got this year.



Before you’re married twice

My mama had some key phrases that she used regularly in response to certain situations.  For example, when my sister or I were complaining or whining about something fairly (in retrospect) insignificant, she would say, “You’ll get over it before you’re married twice.”

I don’t know where she got that phrase.  I never heard any of my aunts say it, just my mama.  But to this day, it sticks in my head and I find it bouncing around in there whenever someone around me is grumbling about something small.

As a young girl, I used to think that her statement didn’t make any sense.  If she was trying to tell me that I would soon be over my anguish, well then, telling me that I would be over it before I was married twice caused me great confusion.  Since I would never be married TWICE, I would obviously have to spend the rest of my life working through my heartache.

I knew very few people who had divorced parents.  I had one cousin whose parents were divorced, but we never talked about.  None of my friends had parents that were divorced, and if any of the other kids in my classes had divorced parents, I didn’t know about it.  In my very protected little world, divorce just wasn’t a known entity.

So, it was with authority that I would reply, “Then I’ll always be unhappy because I’ll never be married twice!”

Ah, the innocence of youth.

At the age of 42, I have not been married twice.  But this is not a result of being so smart and emotionally mature that I just waited for the exact right person.  No, it’s the result of things not working out the way that I wanted them to.  I would have married a man who I dated in my 20s, and I am fairly certain that it wouldn’t have lasted.  It’s only stubbornness on his part that prevents me from being married twice.

Matt and I just celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary.  Each year has had its challenges.  Each year has had its joys.  And no matter how much you are advised that marriage is work, you can’t appreciate how much work until you are in one.  I couldn’t appreciate the blessings, either.

I hope this is Matt and me in 40 years.


Speaking of marriage, we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at my mama’s house.  My Aunt Baby, Uncle Joe and cousin Judson came over on Christmas Eve.  During the evening, the topic of “John and Jill Doe” arose.

mama:  You could be like John and Jill Doe that got divorced after 42 years of marriage.

me:  Who are John and Jill Doe?

mama:  They used to live across the Blue Ridge Parkway from Mama and Daddy.  They got divorced after 42 years.

Judson:  Why after 42 years?

Baby:  Because John stayed in the bed drunk all day while Jill worked.

me:  And that had been going on for 42 years?

mama:  Yes.

Matt:  Well, what happened after 42 years?

Baby:  Jill got tired of John staying in bed reading westerns, being drunk all day, while she had to work.

me:  Yeah, but why did she put up with it for 42 years and then decide enough was enough?

mama:  Maybe she figured he was never going to change.

Joe:  I’ll say one thing.  John is a better man than me.  If I were in bed drunk, I couldn’t read.  That would be too much for me.  Maybe TV, but definitely no reading.

No making sense of it

I have told many people that the biggest reason I write is because it is therapy for me.  Regardless of whether anyone read my blog or not, I would continue to write.  I do it for sanity.

And I need to write today more than ever.  The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, is shocking. How do you hear the news that 20 children between the ages of 5 and 10 have been killed and not think that you have misheard or gone a little crazy?  How do you not sit down and do the thing that helps you feel sane again?

But I’m not feeling more sane.  I feel insanely sad.  My nieces and nephew are between those ages.  I could throw up just thinking about someone shooting them.

I was in a meeting from 9 AM until 2 PM today and I had little knowledge of anything going on outside the four walls of the room.  I left work a little early and walked outside into some beautiful, sunny weather.  I checked my Facebook and saw all these updates on “shootings” and “tragedy” and “sick about CT” and “I will hug my child tight”.  I turned on NPR and quickly learned about what happened.

It’s so disconcerting to juxtapose a beautiful, sunny Friday with a tragedy.  It felt surreal to be driving home, listening to the details.

I do not agree with the majority of President Obama’s policies, but I will applaud him for his news conference today.  He did a great job.  I found myself crying in the car.

I’m just furious at the shooter.  I want to call him evil.  I want to paint horns on him and automatically assume that he had no morals, no conscience, no soul.  And maybe he didn’t.  Right now, all my anger is at Adam Lanza.

He had to have mental issues.  Didn’t he?  Doesn’t there have to be some sort of underlying mental health disease that would trigger a person to do something so evil?  I so want to believe that acts this ugly can’t be committed otherwise.

I am not casting stones on people with mental health issues.  I’ve struggled with my own mental health problems in the past, fighting depression.  But I have never, ever, not once in my whole life had one thought about hurting another person.  And I thank God for that.

I did some intensive group therapy once and one of the women in my group did think of hurting others.  She also heard voices.  But I also knew her very violent and abusive background.  And she was trying to get help.  I had a lot of sympathy for her.  She hated having these thoughts.

I have no sympathy for Adam Lanza.  Is it because he actually acted on his thoughts?  Or because I didn’t know him and his story?

In the end, I don’t have to have sympathy for him.  I can have a world of anger and that’s ok.  But the anger at him still doesn’t help me make sense of this tragedy.

I do not believe that “it was just God’s plan”.  That is one of the most asinine statements.  I don’t believe that God enjoys seeing us suffer.  I believe that He wanted Adam to get help, to stop, to make the right choice — and what happened “was just Adam’s plan.”  Adam made it and Adam  carried it out (at least based on what little I know right now where the media is calling him the shooter).  I believe that God is crying with us.

This is mostly an incoherent rambling of thoughts, but in the end, my prayers are with the parents, children and people of Newtown, CT.  My prayers are also with every parent and child as they deal with the scariness of this story.  May you all get through this.

JOYful holidays

This picture perfectly illustrates how I have felt about the holidays for, oh, about the last 20 years.  I saw this image on Pinterest the other day and I laughed out loud because it is funny, but then I started to think about how much I related to the picture.

I grew up in Christmas tree farm country.  Lots of people make their living growing and selling Christmas trees, so they are not just a tradition that brighten and decorate the house once a year, they are a source of income and security for lots of families.

I dated and lived with a Christmas tree grower for many years during my 20s, so I was a “Christmas tree widow” for 10 years.  And you really do lose your loved one to the fields during the harvest season — only about 6 weeks to make the income for the whole 52 weeks of the year.  The pressure is high and the work days are long.

And in the end, you get a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  They weren’t quite as bad as the one pictured to the left, but we always got the left over, culled trees.  The good trees were sold, not saved for the house.

These years began my disenchantment with the holidays.    Even after the Christmas tree grower and I finally split the Christmas tree ornaments for good, I had little joy in the Christmas season.

I would turn the radio station when Christmas carols came on;  I stopped getting a Christmas tree; I hated shopping for Christmas presents because of the crowds.  The only thing that I liked about Christmas was the reason behind it:  Jesus’s birth.

This year, however, ring the bells!  Ding dong!  The witch is dead.  Or, sticking with the theme, Scrooge has seen all three ghosts and converted.  I am actually enjoying this holiday season.  I enjoyed decorating the Christmas tree.  I even put lights on a tree outside!  Yesterday, I went to Wal-Mart and found myself dancing in the aisles to the cheery Christmas music on the speakers.  I realized what I was doing when I noticed that one little boy kept standing at the end of whatever aisle I was in, watching me.  Once I realized what he was doing, I put some extra wiggle and kick into each aisle.  I figured the kid should get rewarded (or punished depending on his point of view) for stalking me in Wal-Mart.

The difference in this year and past years — this year I’m not depressed.  That bitch disease has been stealing Christmas from me — depression is The Grinch!

I’ve gotten my Christmas present early this year — I’m dancing in the aisles again (literally).  I hope your presents are as awesome as mine has been.

Straightening out the nose-mating opossum myth

I love it when you find unexpected information on the internet.

me:  I saw a possum in the backyard when I pulled in the driveway last night.  Wow, they are just ugly.

Matt:  Yes, they are.  (pause)  I don’t think they have any natural predators.

me:  Well, let’s see.  I’ll google it.

Quick Google search and I found a site called “The Possums Pages:  FAQs“.  I found out that 1) in America that they are properly called opossums (true possums only live in Australia) and 2) yes, natural predators are foxes, bobcats, coyotes, dogs and owls.

me:  This guy really must love the ugly little bastards.  There is all kinds of stuff on this site.  Oh, my god, listen to this–

Do opossums really mate through the nose?  This is a myth that has been around for ages and has become so prevalent that I actually have seen a few websites about opossums which state it as a fact.  The truth is, there is no truth to it.  The whole crazy idea seems to have come about because the male opossum has a bifid (forked) penis, and the only corresponding parts on the female appeared to be the nostrils.  The myth states that after mating through the nose, the female later sneezes the tiny fetuses into her pouch.  Rather than indicating what a unique animal the opossum is, this story actually just reveals how bizarre some people are in what they can imagine.  In reality the male has a bifid penis because the female has two uteri (wombs), and sperm are deposited into each womb during copulation.  But mating occurs through the vaginae (sic), not through the nose.

Matt:  Did you just say, “she sneezes the fetuses into her pouch?”  Did I actually hear that come out of your mouth?

me:  Yes, that’s what it said.

(I continue to read opossum facts.)

me:  Here’s the next one:

What are male and female opossums called?  Male opossums are called jacks, females are called jills.  (Sound familiar?)  The young are referred to as joeys, just like their Australian cousins.  A group of opossums is called a passel.

Matt:  A what?

me:  A passel.

Matt:  Are you pronouncing that correctly?

me:  Yes, it says a passel.  A passel of opossums.  That’s hysterical.  Say it.  A passel of opossums.  (laughing)

Opossum guy, I have new respect for the ugly opossum because of your FAQs.  Well done.

Beauty isn’t always as plain as the nose on your face

I rarely get on soap boxes, at least publicly.  It’s just not my thing.  But there is one topic about which I am passionate — little girl’s self-esteem and the constant messages about what is “beauty” and “pretty” and “normal”.  If you’ve ever seen a three-year old little girl in a bathing suit, she is completely body unself-conscious.  Visit her again in about 4 years (6 if you’re lucky), and you will find a little girl who has already started to worry about weight, who has already started to compare herself to the other little girls to see if she “fits in.”

It makes me livid.  Because self-conscious little girls can grow into self-questioning little girls, into teenage girls with self-esteem issues, into girls that make poor choices in a desire to be accepted, in hopes of being thought pretty, in pursuit of fitting in.  And what rips me is just whose definition of pretty and fitting in and acceptance is it?  Whenever I look at a magazine or TV or any mass media, I want to take a Sharpie and draw bulges and lines where the model’s body really is, pre-Photo-Shopping.  I have two beautiful nieces, and I dread the time that they believe that the world’s expectations of beauty are based on photos of people who have themselves been altered to represent an unrealistic vision of beauty.

I am ranting based on my experience and my own non-scientific analysis of the world in which we live.  I haven’t read formal studies, but  I remember my own childhood.  I grew up in a very female-dominated atmosphere.  My mama had 6 sisters and, on most Sundays, the sisters and their families gathered at my grandparent’s house.  Thus, for the Sundays of my childhood, my cousins and I spent time in a house full of females, discussing their lives.  A common comment that we girl cousins heard from these aunts’ and mothers’ mouths was “I am so fat.  I need to lose weight.”

This statement was never directed to anyone else.  It was always self-directed and normally met with a chorus of “No, you don’t.”  Yet, the message that we heard was “Fat is BAD!  Bad. Bad. Bad.”

Regardless of the fact that we children were told “You are beautiful.  You do not need to worry about how you look.  You are beautiful”, it didn’t matter because our female role models were always talking about being fat.   I internalized that message and in talking to my sister and my female cousins, so did they.  My self-esteem about my looks suffers now because of this and because I am not 6’4″ tall and 95 lbs., which is the body type for all clothes.

My mama used to say “Pretty is as pretty does” — and it is so true.  But no one should think they are ugly.

As an additional thought, I have some songs that I think are good songs for sharing.  These songs underscore the beauty to be found in all “little girls”:

Who Says?

Selena Gomez & The Scene


Christina Aguilera

Free to Be Me

Francesca Battistelli

The Beauty in Ugly

Jason Mraz

Happy Girl

Beth Nielsen Chapman

Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful

Kellie Pickler

Smile! You’ll live longer (or so happy people say…)

I don’t actually have much to say.  I just wanted to share some short videos (1 min or less) that I watch whenever I need a pick-me-up, whenever I need to smile.  And who doesn’t need those little attitude boosters every now and then?


I love this sooo much.  The description says that Tucker wasn’t trained to do this (which may or may not be true) but that he just does this everyday on his own.  I love to think that this dog just feels the need to express his artistic side.  If you really want to smile, read some of the viewer comments.

Keep Swimming

When I get frustrated, I tell myself “Keep Swimming.”  Dorie may have sung this, but my friend, Wendy, sent me this clip (*waves* Hi, Wendy), so I also think about her whenever I watch this.  And she is my example of pure energy–she is a dynamo.  That image also makes me smile (and giggle).  It may be dog paddling some days, but I’m swimming, damn it.

Cali Dancing

This is a video of my niece, Cali, dancing.  She had just gotten a new toy bear that sings “The Pina Colada Song”.  She is so happy and so free in dancing and expressing her joy.  It is just all about living in that moment for her.  My heart is gladdened when I see this.  And why shouldn’t it be?  It’s a bear and “The Pina Colada Song”!!  If it were a parrot, say, and “The Pina Colada Song”, eh, I probably wouldn’t dance.  That’s not that worthy of bootie-shaking.  But a bear and pina coladas — worth getting on the dance floor every time!

Feel free to add my videos to your arsenal of favorites.  Or let me know what your favorites are for putting on a smile.

Ghost of Christmas future

I did our weekly grocery shopping yesterday and on the way out the door, I spotted what I thought was an “Angel Tree” for local needy children.  You know, pick an “Angel” with a child’s name and a list of the gifts that they want and / or need for Christmas.

Instead, this was a “Senior Tree”–a tree for needy senior citizens.  I had never seen such a thing.

I am always saddened by the Angel Tree kids that ask for notebooks and pencils, gloves, socks, a winter coat, all those things that seem like necessities and not like fun, playful gifts for Christmas.  I guess one version of Heaven will be a world where kids don’t have to ask for basics but can ask for (and get) frivolous gifts, gifts that they totally don’t need but just want.

The gifts that the Seniors asked for broke my heart as much as a kid asking for school supplies for Christmas.  I picked a senior named Sarah who asked for a sweat suit, some chocolate, some tissues and a soft blanket for her bed.

I went back to the store tonight to buy all the items for which Sarah asked.  And being a contemplative person, I naturally started to think about my (I-hope-I-have-them) senior years.

Matt and I don’t have any children, either with each other or with other people.  For me, a childless state isn’t something that I consciously chose–it just kinda happened this way.  One path taken, another path missed, a spell at this rest stop, and ta-da, before I knew it, I was in my late 30s, still single with no children.  Matt and I met; he reluctantly fell in love with me (I fell in love more willingly with him) and we married, but we both knew that at this point in our lives, we didn’t want to have children.

One of my greatest fears is that I will be old and alone.  I guess I could add at this point the cliché about having 30 cats, but I won’t.  (Well, actually, I just did, but I didn’t mean to.)  Who is going to take care of us when we get old?  Who is going to make sure that we are ok?  If Matt goes before I do, then I’m really going to be alone.  I really hope that I go first.  (Sorry, Matt, if that seems selfish.  It is, but I’ll be dead so you shouldn’t be mad at me.)

I hope Matt and I look happier than this when we're this old...

I hope Matt and I look happier than this when we’re this old…

Matt has wisely pointed out that having children doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have someone to care for or about you when you are old.  I know that.  But my imaginary children that I raise in response to seeing how poorly other people are raising their children are so well behaved that I just know that they would take care of us and love us and feed us and change us.  (My imaginary children also always do their homework, never talk back, obey without question, and respect me unreservedly.  I’m that good of an imaginary mother.)

It is very scary to think that in 20 to 30 years, somebody could be pulling a card off of a Senior Tree with the name “Cristy” on it.  Will they be as saddened as I was by Sarah’s card?  I’m going to start stocking up now on tissues and chocolate so that I can ask for some fun stuff.

Here’s my prayer:

If I ever have a card on a Senior Tree, Dear Lord, please let me have enough friends and loved ones to visit me and provide companionship, remember me on my birthday, buy me sweatsuits and food that I like, send me emails and letters, and remind me that I am loved so that I can ask on my card for:

  1. Dr. Dre headphones (to listen to my 80s-90s Rock w/o disturbing my roommate)
  2. Some exercise bands to stay in shape to fight the other women for the limited men at my age
  3. Good mixer to make mashed potatoes (to fight the other women for the limited men at my age)
  4. Two words:  PLASTIC SURGERY


Pinterest is making me crazy

I am convinced that “another pinner says” is the new equivalent to “an unnamed source” — there may or may not actually be a person who tried that recipe, made that craft, used that home remedy to remove stains.  My guess is that in most cases, “another pinner” actually refers to some corporation or other invested party because some of these things DO NOT WORK and no actual person would recommend or pin or repin.

The alternative is that I am a bumbling, incapable individual.

This may be the ultimate truth.  I would like to believe that it is my Pinterest conspiracy theory and not a mid-life deterioration of my abilities.


Someone pinned this FABULOUS recipe with only TWO ingredients for AWESOME pumpkin muffins — canned pumpkin and yellow cake mix.  I have seen it pinned and repinned.  Potentially some of the grossest food I have put in my mouth.

TWO INGREDIENTS — how could I have messed it up?  But it sucked.  Yet it still keeps getting passed around the world of Pinterest.

Easy to make Christmas tree ornaments.  Three ingredients to make your own clay (corn starch, baking soda and water), shape and bake, then decorate.  Do it with YOUR CHILD!  How hard could it be (repeat: do it with YOUR CHILD!).

Here is photographic proof of how hard it was:

Matt walked in and said, “Those are some ugly cookies.”  I had to say, “No, those are some ugly Christmas tree ornaments.”

I’ve been making Christmas tree ornaments as gifts for the last 8 years.  None has turned out this bad — but this is the first year that I got the idea from Pinterest.  Coincidence?  I DON’T think so.

Am I the only one actually trying to make the items on Pinterest so am the only one seeing that the shit on there is just pretty to look at and not really do-able by the Average Joe?  If so, that’s ok, but let’s call a spade a spade.  Pinterest should be a website about things we dream of doing, cooking, making, seeing, tasting, reading, dating, wearing, decorating, living in, etc. but don’t have any intention of actually getting off of our asses and doing.  “My Wish (but will never do) List”

I would have saved a whole lot of time today.